Israel’s cruel blockade on UNRWA aid convoys to northern Gaza exacerbates the humanitarian crisis

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• Israel’s blockage of UNRWA aid convoys to northern Gaza sparks outrage, with Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini labeling it “outrageous” and warning of dire consequences.

 US Senator Chris Van Hollen dismisses Israel’s accusations against UNRWA as “flat-out lies,” exposing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agenda to dismantle the agency.

 

In a move that has sparked outrage and deep concern, Israel has defied the United Nations and informed that it will no longer approve food convoys from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, to enter the northern Gaza Strip. Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, condemned this decision as “outrageous” and warned of dire consequences for the already desperate situation in Gaza.

“Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to the north,” Lazzarini expressed on social media platform X. “This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.”

The timing of this decision couldn’t be worse. Just days ago, a UN-backed report sounded the alarm that famine was imminent in northern Gaza, a crisis many attribute to Israeli restrictions on humanitarian aid. The Israeli authorities have been severely limiting the entry of aid into Gaza for over five months, particularly in the northern regions.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report painted a grim picture, indicating that the entire population of Gaza, estimated at around 2.3 million, is facing acute food insecurity. Shockingly, half of the population is categorized as suffering from “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity.

Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis, with at least 27 reported deaths from malnutrition according to the Palestinian health ministry. With UNRWA, the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza, now blocked from delivering aid, the situation is expected to deteriorate rapidly.

Lazzarini emphasized that preventing UNRWA from fulfilling its mandate in Gaza will only accelerate the march towards famine, leading to more deaths from hunger, dehydration, and lack of shelter. He urged the international community to intervene and lift these restrictions, warning that failure to do so would stain humanity’s collective conscience.

This latest development comes against the backdrop of allegations made by Israel two months ago, claiming that a dozen UNRWA employees were involved in attacks on southern Israel. While some Western countries suspended funding to UNRWA following these allegations, others have since resumed support. However, the funding suspensions, coupled with Israeli calls for UNRWA’s abolition, have pushed the agency to the brink.

US Senator Chris Van Hollen has condemned the allegations leveled against the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) as “flat-out lies.” Van Hollen’s remarks, made in an interview with CBS News on Sunday, shed light on the true motives behind Israel’s relentless assault on UNRWA’s credibility.

“There’s no doubt that the claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu and others are making, that somehow UNRWA is a proxy for Hamas, are just flat-out lies,” Van Hollen, a Democrat, stated unequivocally. His words strike at the heart of Israel’s attempts to delegitimize UNRWA, which provides essential services to nearly 6 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Van Hollen didn’t mince words in accusing Netanyahu of fabricating claims to justify his long-standing agenda to dismantle UNRWA. “Netanyahu has wanted to get rid of UNRWA since at least 2017. That’s been his goal,” Van Hollen asserted, exposing the ulterior motives behind Israel’s smear campaign.

UNRWA, established in 1949 to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees, now finds itself grappling with immense challenges. The humanitarian community is racing against time to avert a catastrophe in Gaza, but without access to crucial aid, the prospects look increasingly bleak.

As the crisis deepens, calls for Israel to reverse its decision and allow UNRWA to resume its vital work grow louder. The international community, including key stakeholders like the United States and European Union, must step up efforts to address the root causes of the crisis and ensure that lifesaving assistance reaches those in desperate need in Gaza.

In light of the escalating crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths have also condemned Israel’s decision, emphasizing the urgent need for access to aid in Gaza. The WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, underscored that denying aid to starving people only exacerbates their suffering and called for an immediate reversal of the ban. Similarly, Martin Griffiths highlighted UNRWA’s crucial role as the “beating heart” of humanitarian response in Gaza and warned that blocking its food convoys will push thousands closer to famine, urging Israel to revoke the ban.

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